Online dating has now become as common as conventional dating. Dozens of dating apps have emerged in the past few years, with millions of users worldwide. Undoubtedly, online dating has changed the way the young generation perceives relationships and also how people connect with those around them. The way single men and women find partners has gone through a phase shift, empowering them to find potential matches in their area with a few swipes of the finger. Although your moral and cultural judgment of dating apps is entirely yours to make, like all social technology applications, dating apps have evident drawbacks.
With more than 50 million active users and more than 30 billion matches being made, Tinder.com is one of the most widely used dating apps today. Such large user banks and rich stores of personal user data have made all dating apps a high-risk platform for identity theft, scams, harassment, and more.
Dating apps come with more cons than pros, and that’s a fact. Apart from your privacy being at risk, you can actually find yourself in physical danger in the case you match with someone with predatory behavior, and you go on to meet them in person. Here are some of the things dating app users should expect:
- Everyone on a dating app isn’t looking for true love. While you might have signed up to find someone for yourself, there is no guarantee that the person on the other side of the dating app is sincere or even safe to talk to. Sex offenders, rapists, or robbers; all types of people use dating apps as fishing holes for victims. While you might be fishing for love, someone else may be fishing for your private information, such as your name, address, and phone number.
- Easy leakage of sensitive information. People share their personal information online too easily when they are dating online; this is because when you are looking for love, you open up much easier to strangers about yourself. Many people have admitted to sharing their full name publicly, their phone number, and even their home address with strangers on dating apps, all of which make them vulnerable.
- Hackers can see your activity. Hackers can intercept the data coming to and from your mobile device. Although textual information like your name and biodata is encrypted, profile pictures are not. Hackers can monitor what profile pictures you view on the app as well as if you swiped left or right on a particular profile picture.
- Your location is exposed. Dating apps like Tinder display other users within a 25-mile radius, but anyone with basic programming knowledge can pinpoint your location on the map just by using your profile. Because Tinder uses your latitude and longitude to show that you are present within 25-miles of someone, anyone can hack into the algorithms to find out your exact coordinates.
- Your private information is stored. From the first time, you texted your first match on Tinder to every profile you matched with or went on to date in real life, the dating app stores all of this information in its online database. Every information you share with someone you are talking to over the app is simultaneously being shared and stored within the app. This means all your private texts, pictures, and biodata are up for grabs for anyone who has the capability to retrieve this information from the app’s database.
Dating apps can be a dangerous place for someone unaware of all these threats. While these are only some of the potential risks of using dating apps, you might be wondering what should be done to protect yourself and your privacy. Straightaway deleting your profile or stopping to use the app isn’t the way to go. After knowing that dating apps pose such danger to your privacy, one might even decide not to use any, and it is entirely your choice whether you want to use dating apps in the future or not. Still, there are some ways you can keep yourself and your data safe while you continue to use the apps. Here is how:
- Be careful what information you share: The only source of your private data is you. Only what you share on an online website or dating app can be stored or used with or without your permission. Whenever talking to someone or filling online surveys, you should conceal information like your contact, house address, and bank details.
- Use a different picture on dating apps: Reverse searching using your image on a Tinder profile is when someone searches if that image exists somewhere else on the internet. When the same profile picture is used on, for instance, Facebook, your Facebook profile can be easily found. To protect your privacy, use a fresh image for Tinder that you haven’t used anywhere else. Furthermore, avoid sharing the name of your workplace or highschool on social media sites linked to dating sites such as Facebook.
- Use a VPN: VPNs are a great tool to hide your location whenever you want. VPN masks your actual location, and you appear to be using the internet from a different location. When you use a VPN, it encrypts the connection between you and the server. This virtually hides you on the internet; your internet address cannot be identified, and no one other than you can see your activity on apps like Tinder. In other words, it helps you keep your privacy.
- Secure yourself when you go to see someone you met online: There is no guarantee that someone would turn out to be what they portrayed online. Whenever you go to meet someone, take security measures. Arrange a meeting at a public place, tell a friend about where you are going and who you’re going to see. Additionally, you should choose a neutral venue, avoid the restaurant or café you use frequently.
Dating apps are fun, and they have helped thousands of couples find love. You can use all the tips to continue using a dating app if you want, and be on the safe side.